Emotional Health

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “Is My Baby’s Emotional Intelligence On Track?”    Let’s face it, it’s tough trying to figure out how your baby is feeling. It’s not like your 2-month-old can calmly explain, “Mom, I really don’t appreciate when you wipe my tush with those freezing cold wipes. Please use the wipe warmer moving forward.” No, instead you’re met with flailing limbs and blood-curdling screams as you desperately try to figure out why your baby’s ticked off. Though you may feel like a deer in headlights deciphering your baby’s emotions, the way you support their emotional intelligence (EQ) during their first year sets the foundation for their lifelong emotional health.    So now that we’ve laid the pressure on thick, let’s dive into  how  you can support your baby’s EQ, even when you have no clue what they’re feeling.     1. Mark their emotional milestones   The first step in supporting your child’s emotional management is understanding how a baby’s EQ typically develops. The average milestone pattern is as follows:   0-3 Months  – They express whatever emotions they’re feeling in the moment without understanding them. All they know is they are either feeling pleasure or displeasure and when they are displeased, they make sure their parents know it!   Month 3  – Your baby will make eye contact, develop more facial expressions, and start to show pleasure by smiling. They may find ways to briefly soothe themselves such as closing their eyes or thumb sucking.    Month 4  – Their showing of emotions intensifies and they’ll begin to copy your facial expressions. They’ll also recognize when they’re having fun and may cry when playing stops.   Month 5  – They become increasingly assertive and begin to decipher between family members and strangers.    Month 6  – They tend to be a bit moodier; you may notice they are happy and clapping one minute and having a raging fit the next. Gotta keep you on your toes mom & dad!   Month 7  – At this point your baby realizes you aren’t attached to them - a revelation that gives birth to a new feeling: fear. This is often when separation anxiety kicks in. They also start to pick up on social referencing, or being able to understand how others feel by looking at their faces and gestures.    8-11 months  – Your baby is becoming more aware of others’ feelings and may feel guilt when they’ve done something wrong. Separation anxiety peaks during this time, but your baby will also begin to display independence as they learn to crawl and walk.    12 months – Toddlers feel an increased need to assert their independence which leads to, you guessed it, tantrums! Since their language development is increasing dramatically, this is a great time to teach your toddler to label their emotions.    2. Embrace their wiring    The development of your child’s EQ is based on 3 factors: their brain development, their life experiences, and their temperament. At around 6 months, your baby’s temperament will become increasingly apparent. If your child is more anxious, sensitive, or hot-tempered than you’d like them to be, it’s important that you learn to accept them for who they are and not try to force them to change. Instead, focus your efforts on teaching them ways to cope with strong emotions regardless of their temperament.    3. Have 1-sided convos   Just because your baby isn’t talking yet doesn’t mean they don’t gain a lot from listening to you. It’s never too early to start talking to your baby about feelings. Make it a habit to label your emotions during everyday life so that they become familiar with what each feeling is called.   Examples: (Baby cries when Grandma leaves). Mom: “I understand, you’re feeling sad that Grandma is leaving. I’m sad Grandma’s leaving too.”   4. Encourage Empathy   A key factor of emotional intelligence is not just understanding our own emotions, but being able to recognize the feelings of others. Model empathy by bringing up others’ feelings during daily interactions and play.   Example:  “Teddy bear is sitting all by himself. He must feel lonely. Let’s go play with him.”   Have older kids too?    Check out our blog on fostering EQ in children and teens     5. Troubleshoot tantrums   Pay attention to your child’s body language  before  they enter full meltdown mode – do they shake, turn red, or clench their fists? When you notice your child steering toward the tantrum-turnpike, intervene by giving a calming touch or offering a fun distraction. This will set the foundation for learning to calm themselves down before their feelings escalate and get out of hand.    6. Model good management   The best way to show your baby how to manage emotions is to demonstrate it yourself. Whether your feelings are positive or negative, make a point to show your child healthy ways to express them.   Examples:   “I am feeling frustrated right now so I am going to close my eyes and focus on my breathing for a minute.”   “I’m feeling so excited that Titi Marta is going to be here in five minutes! Let’s do a dance together until she gets here!”   Are you a high EQ parent?    Click here    to find out!    7. Identify EQ problems   While babies progress at different rates, it’s important to know when their behaviors may be pointing to developmental problems. If your baby exhibits any of the following symptoms, their emotional growth might not be on track for their age:      Frequent anxiety or anger    Sleep problems    Refusal to eat    Lethargy    Extreme fear of new situations     Lack of motivation to try new things       


   
     
      
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      8. See a specialist   Supporting a baby’s EQ is HARD! You can’t reason with them, they can’t tell you what’s wrong, and you’re often sleep-deprived and overwhelmed yourself. The good news is, you don’t need to do it alone. Our Specialists at Variations can support you in understanding your baby’s development, determining if they need additional support, and giving you tools to boost your child’s EQ through each stage of life.     Dr. Amy E. Weir, Psy.D.,  is an expert in infant and toddler development. Dr. Weir specializes in providing diagnostic testing, treatment support, and behavior management strategies to support the unique needs of babies and young children.      
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Weir 
        Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in child and educational psychology. Dr. Shinn can provide diagnostic testing and recommend support for your baby’s healthy emotional development.        
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life         
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.   References:   Alegre, A. (2011). Parenting Styles and Children’s Emotional Intelligence: What do We Know?  The Family Journal ,  19 (1), 56–62. https://doi.org/10.1177/1066480710387486  Baby Sparks (2017). The Evolution of Emotions (Part 1): Your Baby’s First Year. https://babysparks.com/2017/10/12/the-evolution-of-emotions-part-1-your-babys-first-year/  Brouzos, A., Misailidi, P., & Hadjimattheou, A. (2014). Associations Between Emotional Intelligence, Socio-Emotional Adjustment, and Academic Achievement in Childhood: The Influence of Age.  Canadian Journal of School Psychology ,  29 (2), 83–99. https://doi.org/10.1177/0829573514521976  Harvard University (2011). Children’s Emotional Development is Built into the Architecture of Their Brains. Center on the Developing Child.  National Scientific Council on the Developing Child.  Retrieved online: http://46y5eh11fhgw3ve3ytpwxt9r.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2004/04/Childrens-Emotional-Development-Is-Built-into-the-Architecture-of-Their-Brains.pdf  Shinn. M.M. (2018). “Am I an Emotionally Intelligent Parent?” 6 Tips for Moms and Dads to Boost their EQ.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/am-i-an-emotionally-intelligent-parent-6-tips-for-moms-dads-to-boost-their-eq  Shinn. M.M. (2018). 5 Tips for Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/5-tips-for-raising-emotionally-intelligent-children

“Is My Baby’s Emotional Intelligence On Track?”

It’s tough to know how to support your baby’s emotions when they can’t explain them to you. The good news is, there are ways to teach your baby healthy emotional management well before they’re walking or talking.

Check out this week’s blog to learn how!

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      “How Do I Talk to My Son About Puberty?” 10 Things Parents of Boys Should Know      “Why did my voice crack when I was talking to my crush?!” “Where did these zits come from?!” “Why are parts of me growing and the rest of me isn’t?!” Puberty can cause a lot of confusion and self-consciousness in boys. While there’s no getting around some of the challenges that come with puberty, parents can ease their sons’ discomfort by letting them know what to expect.    But discussing things like nocturnal emissions and growing genitals can feel a bit awkward to some parents, so here are a few tips to having a supportive and comfortable conversation with your son:      1. Decide who will discuss it   Think about who the best person would be to discuss puberty with your son. Fathers are often the go-to, but if dad isn’t in the picture, consider having a grandfather, uncle, trusted male friend, or family doctor to help. It’s important for moms to discuss puberty with their sons as well, but it helps to have a man available for them to talk about the more uncomfortable changes.      2. Break down the biology   As a boy develops into a man, both his mind and body will experience significant changes.  If he knows what to expect and why these things are happening, he’ll have an easier time adjusting. Remind him that puberty’s changes take time and he may not experience all of these things at once, but over the next few years he can expect changes such as increased testosterone, growth of genitals and muscles, facial and body hair growth, ejaculation, nocturnal emissions, voice lowering, and body odor.     3. Empower emotional health    Our society has an epidemic issue with boys not knowing healthy ways to understand, process, and cope with emotional challenges. Emotional intelligence is critical during puberty when your son is developing the ability to think at a higher level, establish his identity and values, and build peer and romantic relationships. Support your son’s emotional intelligence by frequently asking about his feelings and by modeling your own healthy emotional management.      For more tips on increasing emotional intelligence in your child, click here      4. Don’t make sex a taboo subject   Families have different views surrounding sex, and it’s important to communicate your family’s values to your son. He may balk at the idea of discussing sex with mom and dad, but don’t shy away from discussing it. Teach him potential consequences and explain your beliefs on masturbation, pre-marital sex, safe sex, and unplanned pregnancies. Being honest and open about your values will help inform his own beliefs and encourage him to make responsible decisions.      5. Help him with hygiene    Say hello to B.O.! Explain to your son how he should take care of his body’s changing needs. Describe how he should wash his body thoroughly and apply deodorant. If you allow him to shave, show him how to do so safely. Help him understand what products to use to treat pimples or body acne if breakouts occur.      6. Prepare for the “bottomless pit”   Be warned that the massive appetite increase in teen boys is a very real phenomenon, and you should expect somewhat of an increased grocery budget during your son’s teenage years. In preparation for his growing appetite, try not to load up with junk food and empty calories. Instead, add fresh, hearty, well-balanced snacks to your pantry. A healthy diet will fuel your son’s growth, enhance his mood, and reduce acne.      7. Ease the embarrassment    There are several aspects of puberty that might make your son feel embarrassed, but there are things you can do to avoid humiliation. Knock before you enter his bedroom and make sure he has access to clean sheets so he doesn’t need to ask you for them. Don’t make fun of him when his voice cracks or his skin breaks out. The key to comforting your son is normalizing puberty and not acting like it should be dreaded or shameful.       8. Encourage your late bloomer   Boys go through puberty at different rates, and those who start puberty quicker tend to be more popular and self-assured. If your son is feeling inferior to some faster developing boys, encourage him that many boys experience delayed puberty, often resulting in a rapid growth spurt around age 16 or 17. If you are concerned that your son might have an underlying health issue delaying his puberty, consult his pediatrician.       9. Consider if he needs outside support   It’s normal for your son to experience some mood and behavioral changes during puberty.  But be aware of warning signs that he may be having an especially difficult time coping. If your son experiences any of the following symptoms, consider consulting a   mental health       specialist  :     Extreme weight gain or loss    Sleep problems    Rapid, drastic changes in personality    Sudden changes in friends    Skipping school often    Falling grades    Talk or jokes about suicide    Signs of tobacco, alcohol, or drug use    Run-ins with the law     10. See a Mental Health Specialists   It can be hard for parents to manage all of the changes and feelings that come with seeing their boy turn into a man. Knowing how to discuss puberty with your son as well as supporting his emotional health can be challenging during this transitional time. A specialist in teen boy issues can guide you in successfully relating to your son during adolescent years.     Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D . Dr. Sample specializes in supporting men and teenage boys through tough life transitions including puberty and adolescence. Adolescent boys face a variety of obstacles as they develop toward manhood, and Dr. Sample is experienced in helping them adjust and cope in healthy ways.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample.  
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D ., is an expert in child and educational psychology. Dr. Shinn can help you support your son emotionally, mentally, and academically as he experiences the changes of puberty and adolescence.  Dr. Shinn helps families understand each other’s needs and perspectives to build strong family connections.       
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shinn 
       Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life         
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams).  See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.   References:   Adolescence - Puberty, Cognitive transition, Emotional transition, Social transition  Psychology Encyclopedia  (2018) Retrieved online:  http://psychology.jrank.org/pages/14/Adolescence.html  Dowshen, S. (2015). A Parent’s Guide To Surviving The Teen Years. Retrieved online:  https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/adolescence.html  Puberty Encyclopedia of Children’s Health. Retrieved online:   http://www.healthofchildren.com/P/Puberty.html

“How Do I Talk to My Son About Puberty?”
10 Things Parents of Boys Should Know

It can be hard for parents to manage all of the changes and feelings that come with seeing their boy turn into a man. Knowing how to discuss puberty with your son as well as empowering his emotional health can be challenging during adolescence. Check out this week’s blog to learn tips on talking to your son about puberty.